The Other Art Fair
Olly Fathers and James Rogers’ mural, and the brilliant opportunity it provided in creating an inclusive experience
Presented by Saatchi Art, The Other Art Fair is a favourite destination and event for those that want to explore the budding creative talent of emerging artists. This year, The Other Art Fair presented its first summertime edition in London’s King’s Cross. The fair included an array of talented artists, however in many ways the fair’s showstopper was a mural stemming from the collaboration of two brilliant minds - Olly Fathers and James Rogers.
The mural, a project titled A Boom Downloaded From The Clouds, was an unmissable feature spanning 12 x 2.65m, located at the main site entrance to The Other Art Fair. Bringing together the practices of Olly Fathers and James Rogers, the project married Olly’s bold, playful visual geometric forms and his interest in creating the illusion of depth, with James’ fascinating exploration into emerging technologies. The result was the creation of an opportunity for the fair’s audience to experience something completely different in the form of an immersive installation. The only requirement from the audience was to download a free app on their phone, point it at the mural and watch as the shapes depicted on the wall came to life in front of them.
This idea was initially born through a conversation between the two artists. Through their discussions Olly and James realised that harnessing the power of AR (Augmented Reality) technology for the mural had the potential to both create a piece of immense visual strength, whilst working toward constructing an entirely novel landscape that exists simultaneously across both the physical and digital realms.
Their journey began firstly with working toward truly understanding the technology and the ways by which they could use it to materialise their vision. Interestingly, the technology itself played an important role in informing the composition of the final piece, as whilst feeding the images and instructions to the programme during its development, Olly and James realised that the technology responded better to certain shapes, colours and dimensions. The primary necessity was to provide the application with enough tracking points so that when interacting with the mural, the application could understand the image and translate it into the artists’ desired three-dimensional landscape.
Perhaps one of the mural’s most important achievements was its ability to bring together art and technology, and to do so in a socially inclusive way. The app that the public were invited to download and use is formatted to look similar to an iPhone’s camera app. This interface made it incredibly user friendly, and while the app brought the mural to life, the app interface also invited the user to photograph these changes as they were happening. This provided an opportunity for the audience to interact with the artwork in an entirely new way, whilst the act of taking a photograph also created the perfect setting within which the audience could create memories. As the design of the mural and the app evolved, so did the artists’ overall project: Olly and James ended up creating 6000 invitations for the art fair, 15 telephone box vinyls that served to promote the show dotted around London, and 1500 artist limited edition beer cans served during the fair.
This intriguing collaboration created a platform upon which the two artists could explore their interests in a mutually exclusive way. Olly’s work centres on the playful exploration of shapes and space, while James’ work is focused on understanding and using emerging technologies. By pooling together their individual knowledge and ideas, the artists were challenged into creating an engaging multidisciplinary piece that possesses the potential for further development in the field of art.
James Rogers @jamesrogers_artist (Instagram) https://www.james-rogers.co.uk/ (website)
Olly Fathers @ollyfathers (Instagram) http://www.ollyfathers.com/ (website)
Words by Arietta Chandris